It’s all about leverage and strategy and deadlines and weighing options, of course.
The Miami Dolphins didn’t have a deadline of Tuesday to place a franchise tag on Jarvis Landry. In fact, Tuesday was the very first day they could place a franchise tag on Landry, which is an uncommon move.
The NFL is a deadline league and there was no deadline, which tells you there is more to this.
The Dolphins sent a quick, binding message to Landry, that, yes, they want him on their team. But like any NFL team, they’d really like him at their price.
All along, we’ve said we think Landry would love to make $16 million a season (not realistic on a long-term deal, but hey, he’s poised to exceed that if he signs this franchise tag).
All along we’ve said we think the Dolphins would love to have Landry under contract for $12 million a season, which really was never going to happen considering what surely at least one other team would be willing to pay.
So, yes, all along, we’ve felt that a likely long-term landing spot which is fair to club and player and should be lauded universally as quite fair is a 4- or 5-year deal right around $14 million a year.
Which, we still think, is about where this all lands, in all likelihood, right around the July 16 deadline.
Unless they trade Landry.
As we said, there are strategic reasons the Dolphins chose to use the tag now, as opposed to the actual deadline in a few weeks, on March 6. Firstly, the Dolphins know that no team is going to give up two first-round picks for Landry, which is what they would have to yield in order to sign Landry, who Miami tagged with the non-exclusive tag.
This means that it’s virtually pointless for Landry’s agent to shop Landry to NFL clubs at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. But, Landry’s agent might be able to get a sense for what a club might be willing to pay Landry in a long-term deal if he were to be acquired via a trade.
We still think Miami owner Stephen Ross and coach Adam Gase and all the other involved parties (Chris Grier, Mike Tannenbaum, Ryan Tannehill, etc.) would prefer to have Landry on a longer-term deal.
But we also think Miami has crafted a strategy that would enable them to consider moving Landry if the price was too good to pass.
An early- to mid-second rounder?
Tannenbaum and company know that Matt Cassel — Matt Cassel — once secured an early second-round pick in a trade after he was franchise tagged. The Chiefs, in 2009, sent the 34th pick in the draft (a very early second-rounder) to the Patriots for Cassel and Mike Vrabel, a virtual coup for New England.
Heard that before?
In 2008, the Chiefs were involved in another tag-and-trade, sending Jared Allen to the Vikings (and former Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman) for a first-round pick and two third-round picks.
The Chiefs made out better in this one, grabbing former Dolphin Branden Albert and former Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles with two of those picks.
But this doesn’t happen very often. And it would require the cooperation of the player and another team.
And, honestly, if you’re Jarvis Landry, you’re not minding the idea of making $16 million in 2018 and doing this all over again in a year.
Landry perceives himself as one of the best receivers in the NFL. And if he simply signs the tag and refuses to even consider long-term offers for anything less than $16 million a season, he’d be one of the highest-paid receivers in the league next season.
No, not one of the highest-paid slot receivers. But one of the highest-paid receivers.
Despite any concerns the Dolphins may have about Landry (temperament, etc.) and that they may have voiced publicly or privately along the way, this is business and it is all about business. No, Landry isn’t perfect, and he’ll tell you that.
He’ll also tell you how much he wants to stay a Dolphin. And we still believe, that in the end, the Dolphins see him in their long-term plans.
All this other stuff?
Leverage. Strategy. Business.